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Science Essay

Essay About Science Fiction

Betty P.

Science Fiction Essay: Examples & Easy Steps Guide

12 min read

Essay About Science Fiction

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Whether you are a science or literature student, you have one task in common:

Writing an essay about science fiction!

Writing essays can be hard, but writing about science fiction can be even harder. How do you write an essay about something so diverse and deep? And where do you even start?

In this guide, we will discuss what science fiction is and how to write an essay about it. You will also get possible topics and example essays to help get your creative juices flowing.

So read on for all the information you need to ace that science fiction essay.

Arrow Down

  • 1. What Is Science Fiction?
  • 2. Science Fiction Essay Examples
  • 3. How to Write an Essay About Science Fiction?
  • 4. Science Fiction Essay Ideas
  • 5. Science Fiction Essay Questions
  • 6. Science Fiction Essay Tips

What Is Science Fiction?

Science fiction, often abbreviated as sci-fi, is a genre of literature, film, and art that explores imaginative and speculative concepts rooted in science and technology. 

It typically involves scenarios that are futuristic, speculative, or based on alternative realities. Science fiction is popular in novels, films, television, and other media.

At its core, science fiction is a genre that uses scientific concepts to explore the human condition or to create alternate realities. It often asks questions about the nature of reality, morality, and ethics in light of scientific advancements.

What Is a Science Fiction Essay?

A science fiction essay explores themes, ideas, characters, settings, or stories within the genre. 

It differs from science essays that deal with factual information and data. Instead, science fiction essays dive into imaginative scenarios and speculative ideas. 

They analyze and interpret these elements to uncover deeper meanings and insights about the future, technology, and society.

Let's explore some science fiction essay examples so you can have a better understanding of them.

Science Fiction Essay Examples

It can be helpful to look at examples when you're learning how to write an essay. Here is an example of an argumentative essay about science fiction:

In the expansive universe of science fiction, utopian and dystopian visions serve as contrasting lenses through which authors and filmmakers explore the potential futures of humanity. These visions not only entertain audiences but also provoke profound reflections on our present society and the paths we may choose to follow.

Utopian visions in science fiction paint pictures of idealized societies where harmony, progress, and prosperity prevail. These narratives often depict advanced technologies used for the betterment of humanity, social equality, and peaceful coexistence among diverse cultures. For instance, Star Trek's Federation portrays a future where humanity has overcome war, poverty, and discrimination, united in a quest for exploration and knowledge. Utopian visions inspire hope and optimism, offering glimpses of what society could achieve through cooperation, innovation, and ethical advancement.

Conversely, dystopian visions present bleak landscapes marred by oppression, environmental degradation, and societal collapse. These narratives warn of the dangers of unchecked power, technological misuse, and the consequences of societal divisions. Works like George Orwell's "1984" or Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" depict worlds where authoritarian regimes control every aspect of citizens' lives, eroding freedom and individuality. Dystopian visions serve as cautionary tales, urging audiences to consider the ethical, social, and environmental implications of current trends and decisions.

The societal implications of these contrasting visions are profound and relevant to contemporary challenges and aspirations. Utopian visions encourage us to aspire towards ideals such as equality, sustainability, and scientific progress. They prompt discussions on how to achieve a fairer and more inclusive society, leveraging technology for the collective good while preserving individual rights and freedoms. In contrast, dystopian visions compel us to confront the risks of complacency, technological dependency, and the concentration of power. They highlight the importance of vigilance, civic engagement, and ethical considerations in navigating the complexities of modern society.

Moreover, both utopian and dystopian visions reflect contemporary anxieties and aspirations. Utopian narratives offer blueprints for addressing global issues such as climate change, poverty, and inequality through visionary solutions and societal transformations. Dystopian narratives, on the other hand, challenge us to confront uncomfortable truths about the consequences of systemic injustices, unsustainable practices, and ethical compromises.

In conclusion, the exploration of utopian and dystopian visions in science fiction literature and film serves as a powerful mirror to our present reality and a compass for navigating future possibilities. These contrasting visions provoke critical reflection on our values, choices, and responsibilities as individuals and as a society. By engaging with these narratives, we can envision futures shaped by collective aspirations for a better world while heeding warnings about the potential pitfalls of inaction and indifference. As we stand at the crossroads of technological advancement and societal transformation, the lessons gleaned from utopian and dystopian visions can inform our efforts to build a more equitable, sustainable, and compassionate future for generations to come.

Here is another example of easy on science fiction and fantasy:

Science fiction and fantasy are two intimately linked yet distinct genres that captivate audiences with their expansive worlds, mythical creatures, and epic quests. Although both genres share elements of speculative fiction and imaginative storytelling, each offers unique experiences and explores diverse themes that resonate deeply with readers and viewers.

Science fiction, rooted in scientific principles and plausible futuristic scenarios, delves into the potentials of technology, space exploration, and alternate realities. It stretches the boundaries of current scientific knowledge to envision possible futures shaped by technological advancements. Pioneers like Jules Verne crafted narratives that anticipated modern scientific achievements, inspiring generations to dream of voyages to the moon and the depths of the sea. Science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick further explored complex themes like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering ethics, and interstellar travel. This genre challenges audiences to contemplate the ethical, social, and philosophical implications of scientific progress, presenting cautionary tales alongside aspirational visions of humanity's potential.

Fantasy, in contrast, transports readers to enchanted realms teeming with mythical beings, ancient prophecies, and quests for power and redemption. Unbound by scientific plausibility, fantasy embraces magic, supernatural creatures, and heroic journeys. Influential authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling has crafted intricate worlds such as Middle-earth, Westeros, and the wizarding realm of Harry Potter. These settings offer readers an escape into realms of wonder and adventure, exploring timeless themes of destiny, courage, and the eternal struggle between good and evil through the lens of folklore, mythology, and archetypal storytelling.

Despite their distinctions, both science fiction and fantasy serve as expansive canvases where authors and creators explore complex ideas and universal themes. They possess the power to reflect contemporary concerns and anxieties through allegory and metaphor, providing fresh perspectives on familiar issues. For instance, science fiction can address pressing global challenges such as climate change or the ethical dilemmas of advancing technology through futuristic settings and speculative scenarios. Conversely, fantasy delves into themes of identity, resilience, and the nature of power through magical realms inhabited by mythical beings and enchanted landscapes.

Moreover, both genres have profoundly impacted popular culture, inspiring countless adaptations in film, television, and gaming. From enduring classics like "Star Wars" and "The Lord of the Rings" to modern sensations such as "Game of Thrones" and "The Expanse," these genres have shaped entertainment trends and expanded the boundaries of creative storytelling. They have fostered vibrant fan communities passionate about the imaginative worlds, iconic characters, and thought-provoking themes inherent in these narratives.

In conclusion, science fiction and fantasy represent dynamic genres that continue to captivate audiences with their imaginative storytelling, exploration of profound themes, and ability to transport readers to extraordinary realms. Whether traversing the cosmos or navigating mythical kingdoms, these genres invite readers on journeys of discovery, adventure, and introspection. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible and exploring realms of the extraordinary, science fiction and fantasy enrich our cultural landscape and inspire generations of storytellers and dreamers alike.

Check out more sample science fiction essay PDF examples:

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Looking for range of science essays? Here is a blog with some flawless science essay examples .

How to Write an Essay About Science Fiction?

Writing an essay on science fiction can be fun and exciting. It gives you the opportunity to explore new ideas and worlds.

Here are a few key steps you should follow for science fiction essay writing.

Know What Kind of Essay To Write

Before diving into your essay, understand the type of essay you want to write. 

Are you writing an analytical essay that looks into a specific theme? Perhaps you're working on a compare and contrast essay , examining different works or concepts. Or are you exploring the impact of science fiction on society?

Clarifying your essay's focus will guide your research and structure.

Find an Interesting Topic

There is a lot of science fiction out there. Find a movie, novel, or science fiction concept you want to discuss.

Think about what themes, messages, and ideas you want to explore. Look for interesting topics about science and technology that can help make your essay stand out.

You can find a good topic by brainstorming the concepts or ideas that you find interesting. For instance, do you like the idea of traveling to the past or visiting futuristic worlds?

You'll find some great science fiction topics about the ideas you like to explore.

Do Some Research

Read more about the topic or idea you have selected. 

Read articles, reviews, research papers, and talk to people who know science fiction. Get a better understanding of the idea you want to explore before diving in.

When doing research, take notes and keep track of sources. This will come in handy when you start writing your essay.

Organize Your Essay Outline

Now that you have done your research and have a good understanding of the topic, it's time to create an outline.

An outline will help you organize your thoughts and make sure all parts of your essay fit together. Your outline should include a thesis statement , supporting evidence, and a conclusion.

Once the outline is complete, start writing your essay.

Start Writing Your First Draft

Start your first draft by writing the introduction. Include a hook , provide background information, and identify your thesis statement.

Here is the example of hook for science fiction essay:

"Imagine a future where humanity's fate hangs in the balance, where machines challenge our very existence. In this gripping exploration of artificial intelligence, we dive deep into the heart of science fiction, where the line between man and machine blurs, and our future teeters on the edge of possibility."

Your introduction should be catchy and interesting. But it also needs to show what the essay is about clearly.

Afterward, write your body paragraphs. In these paragraphs, you should provide supporting evidence for your main thesis statement. This could include quotes from books, films, or other related sources. Make sure you also cite any sources you use to avoid plagiarism.

Finally, conclude your essay with a summary of your main points and any final thoughts. Your science fiction essay conclusion should tie everything together and leave the reader with something to think about.

Edit and Proofread

Once your first draft is complete, it's time to edit and proofread.

Edit for any grammar mistakes, typos, or errors in facts. Check for sentence structure and make sure all your points are supported with evidence.

Finally, make sure that the science fiction essay format is followed. Your instructor will provide you with specific formatting instructions. These will include font style, page settings, and heading styles. So make sure to format your essay accordingly.

Once you're happy with your final draft, submit your essay with confidence. With these steps, you'll surely write a great essay on science fiction!

Science Fiction Essay Ideas

Finding a topic for your science fiction essay is a difficult part. You need to find something that is interesting as well as relatable. 

That is why we have collected a list of good topics to help you brainstorm more ideas. You can create a topic similar to these or choose one from here. 

Here are some possible essay topics about science fiction:

  • The Evolution of Science Fiction
  • The Impact of Science Fiction on Society
  • The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction
  • Discuss the Different Subgenres of Science Fiction
  • The Influence of Science Fiction on Pop Culture
  • The Role of Women in Science Fiction
  • Describe Your Favorite Sci-Fi Novel or Film
  • The Relationship Between Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Discuss the Major Themes of Your Favorite Science Fiction Story
  • Explore the themes of identity in sci-fi films

Need prompts for your next science essay? Check out our 150+ science essay topics blog!

Science Fiction Essay Questions

Explore thought-provoking themes with these science fiction essay questions. From futuristic technology to extraterrestrial encounters, these prompts will ignite your creativity and critical thinking skills.

  • How does sci-fi depict AI's societal influence?
  • What ethical issues arise in genetic engineering in sci-fi?
  • How have alien civilizations evolved in the genre?
  • What's the contemporary relevance of dystopian themes in sci-fi?
  • How do time travel narratives handle causality?
  • What role does climate change play in science fiction?
  • Ethical considerations of human augmentation in sci-fi?
  • How does gender feature in future societies in sci-fi?
  • What social commentary is embedded in sci-fi narratives?
  • Themes of space exploration in sci-fi?

Science Fiction Essay Tips

Here are some helpful tips to get you started on writing a science fiction essay that will impress your teacher and guarantee you a top grade.

  • Select a theme or concept that interests you within science fiction.
  • Familiarize yourself with common themes and influential works.
  • Consider how these elements contribute to the narrative and its themes.
  • Discuss hypothetical situations and their implications on society or technology.
  • Interpret symbols, metaphors, and allegories to uncover deeper meanings.
  • Use quotes and examples from the text to strengthen your arguments.
  • Reflect on cultural and historical influences on the science fiction work.
  • Provide your own interpretations and perspectives.
  • Ensure clarity, coherence, and effective organization in your writing.

To conclude the blog,

Writing a science fiction essay doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With these steps, examples, and tips, you can be sure to write an essay that will impress your teacher and guarantee you a top grade. 

Whether it’s an essay about science fiction movies or novels, you can ace it with these steps! Remember, the key is to be creative and organized in your writing!

Don't have time to write your essay? 

Don't stress! Leave it to us! Our science essay writing service is here to help! 

Contact the team of experts at our essay writing service . We can help you write a creative, well-organized, and engaging essay for the reader. We provide free revisions and other exclusive perks!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to start a science fiction essay.

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To start a science fiction essay, begin with a captivating hook that grabs the reader's attention. This could be a thought-provoking quote from a science fiction work, an intriguing question, or a fascinating fact about the genre. Follow this with some background information on the topic to set the context.

What is the purpose of science fiction?

The purpose of science fiction is to explore imaginative and speculative concepts, often grounded in scientific principles, to address complex questions about the future, technology, and humanity. It serves to entertain, provoke thought, and offer commentary on societal issues, ethical dilemmas, and the potential consequences of scientific advancements. By pushing the boundaries of what is known, science fiction encourages readers to reflect on the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.

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Betty is a freelance writer and researcher. She has a Masters in literature and enjoys providing writing services to her clients. Betty is an avid reader and loves learning new things. She has provided writing services to clients from all academic levels and related academic fields.

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Essay on Science Fiction

Students are often asked to write an essay on Science Fiction in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Science Fiction

What is science fiction.

Science fiction is a genre of literature that explores imaginative and futuristic concepts. It includes advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.

Origins of Science Fiction

The origins of science fiction can be traced back to ancient mythology. However, it truly began to take shape during the 19th century with authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

Why is Science Fiction Important?

Science fiction is important because it allows us to explore possibilities for the future. It challenges our understanding of the universe and sparks our imagination.

Science Fiction Today

Today, science fiction continues to be popular in books, movies, and TV shows. It inspires scientists and inventors, and captivates audiences of all ages around the world.

250 Words Essay on Science Fiction

The essence of science fiction.

Science fiction, often abbreviated as Sci-Fi, is a genre of speculative literature that extrapolates current scientific understanding into a future or alternate reality. It explores the interplay of science and technology with human society, often creating a platform for philosophical contemplation and social critique.

The Evolution of Science Fiction

The genre’s roots trace back to ancient myths and fantastical voyages, but it truly came into its own in the 19th century with authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Their works, such as “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “The Time Machine,” respectively, paved the way for the genre’s evolution. The advent of pulp magazines in the early 20th century, like “Amazing Stories,” further popularized science fiction, leading to its golden age in the mid-20th century.

The Impact of Science Fiction

Science fiction has significantly impacted society by sparking imagination and promoting scientific literacy. It has inspired many real-world technological advancements, from cell phones to space travel. Moreover, through its speculative nature, it allows us to explore ethical and moral questions raised by scientific progress.

The Future of Science Fiction

With the rapid advancement of technology and an increasingly interconnected world, science fiction continues to evolve. It is now exploring themes like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and climate change, providing a mirror to our possible futures. As we navigate the complexities of our technologically driven society, science fiction remains a vital tool for understanding and shaping our world.

500 Words Essay on Science Fiction

Introduction to science fiction, historical evolution of science fiction.

The origins of science fiction can be traced back to ancient times, with mythology, folklore, and fantastical tales that hinted at different realities or futures. However, it was during the 19th century that science fiction truly began to emerge as a distinct genre. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are considered pioneers, with works like “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “The Time Machine” respectively, that integrated science and technology with imagination.

In the mid-20th century, science fiction experienced a ‘Golden Age’, with authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein exploring advanced societies, artificial intelligence, and interstellar travel. Their works often reflected contemporary societal issues, such as the Cold War, space exploration, and technological advancements.

Themes and Concepts in Science Fiction

Science fiction is a broad genre that covers a wide range of themes and concepts. One prevalent theme is the exploration of space, often involving interstellar travel and alien civilizations. This theme explores the possibilities of human existence beyond Earth, and how we might interact with other sentient life.

Science Fiction and Society

Science fiction serves as a mirror to our society, reflecting our hopes, fears, and ethical dilemmas. It often addresses contemporary issues, providing a platform to discuss topics such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, climate change, and the ethical implications of technological advancements.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

Apart from these, you can look at all the essays by clicking here .

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conclusion on science fiction essay

Science Fiction Literary Analysis Essay

  • To find inspiration for your paper and overcome writer’s block
  • As a source of information (ensure proper referencing)
  • As a template for you assignment

Introduction

Fiction is a literal technique that has expanded the boundaries of talented writers and endowed literature with imaginations. Science fiction is fiction that totally explores the scientific knowledge gathered and predicted, to bring into perspective some of the societal aspects that are common to the human race. One such work of scientific fiction if “SWARM” by Bruce Sterling.

The story takes the reader through an intriguing encounter of human beings with a variety of extraterrestrial beings with the aim of outlining the theme of life. Although one might argue that life is a basic thing, very few appreciate the complexes that might surround life when seeking to survive in an environment where competition comes from more intelligent creatures. Sterling gives human beings a rather lower level in the pecking order as a way of outlining this fact. This can be seen from the conversation between Afriel and the Alien: “…we human are as children to other races…” (Shippey, p. 472). Sterling also seeks to outline the fact that life will not always provide persons with all that they want, but it will certainly provide them with the means to get what they want. Although the investor Alien looks down on humans, it admits that it likes to associate with them since they are flexibility in nature. Even in the world today success does not only mean being talented or clever, but it means being prudent, strategic and tactful. Sterling brings out the strategy employed by humans when doing business with Aliens. First Humans have ensured that they teach their ambassadors alien language (p. 473). Secondly, human beings have made their ambassadors very intelligent (p. 473). Finally, human beings have resolved to diplomacy rather than aggression. (p. 474). Tact is also demonstrated by Mirny by being able to tame two Swarms to protect her from other Swarms and in return she provides them with food.

Sterling also brings out the aspect of diversity. In describing the Swarm symbiote, it creates a vivid expression of an ugly being. Furthermore, the character of the Swarm symbiote is not very pleasant as it chews the pants of Afriel. However, Afriel still finds a way to co-exist with the Swarms. This outlines the importance of tolerance in a diverse environment. (p. 474) The way Afriel relates to the commander; who happens to be another alien demonstrates humility and tolerance. As Afriel and Mirny navigate the Swarm kingdom, there is a realization that Swarms are much more primitive and unintelligent (pp. 477-478). Even the investor Alien wonders why human beings would want to associate with Swarms (p. 472). However, as Mirny reveals to Afriel, within the Swarm kingdom there is a type of nutritious food that can grow in space.

Sterling’s work of fiction brings out various fundamental aspects concerning life. First, that competition is unavoidable due to limited resources. However, Sterling introduces aliens to bring out some basic concepts that would have been taken for granted in a real life literal piece. The investor Alien looks down upon human and feels that there is nothing that it can learn from them. Human beings on the other hand are aggressive and wishes to learn from other Aliens as much as they can regardless of their intelligence or form. Science fiction has allowed Sterling to explore extremities in terms of intelligence, ugliness and being primitive, to explain basic concepts about life. His emphasis is that life is not about intelligence, beauty or civilization but consists of basic concepts such as prudence, tact, humility and being strategic.

Shippey, Tom. The Oxford Book of Science Fiction. London: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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Science fiction writing tips: Ideas from 8 authors

These tips on writing science fiction from essays and interviews with sci-fi authors will help you develop your speculative fiction writing craft.

  • Post author By Jordan
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If you love good science fiction, you know the genre is so much more than deep space adventures or scientific mishaps like Frakenstein’s monster. Read tips on writing science fiction from eight sci-fi authors:

How to write good science fiction:

  • Decide your type of science fiction
  • Imagine it doesn’t have to be the way it is
  • Keep abreast of science and tech news
  • Think in systems and impacts
  • Explore the creative uses of AI
  • Show the effects of change
  • Embrace the complexity of speculative tales
  • Think about power, representation and access

Don your lab coat and let’s begin:

1. Decide your type of science fiction

Science fiction as a genre term may conjure images of spaceships and Spock, but it is much broader in content than interplanetary travel or deep space exploration.

This is evident in the answer Ursula K. Le Guin gives when asked about being associated with ‘science fiction’ as a term in The Paris Review (Fall 2013). Says Le Guin:

LE GUIN I don’t think science fiction is a very good name for it, but it’s the name that we’ve got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer. I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions. INTERVIEWER That’s how one can identify a sci-fi author, I guess—tentacles coming out of the pigeonhole. LE GUIN That’s right.

If you want to write good science fiction, as with any genre you need a wide frame of reference (lest your tentacles stay in the proverbial pigeonhole).

Read widely within your genre for deep understanding of the range of science fiction writing ideas out there.

What type of science fiction do you want to write?

What are examples of science fiction categories? Popular types of science fiction or sci-fi subgenres include:

  • Hard science fiction: ‘Hard’ science fiction typically explains the scientific concepts it uses in detail to underpin story events with scientific fact, concept and argument. Hard sci-fi example: The Dune series by Frank Herbert.
  • Soft science fiction: ‘Soft’ science fiction tends to focus less on technological development or function, rather using elements of science and/or technological advancement to explore the ‘why’ (for example, why a future society might stratify (or not stratify) power a certain way). Soft sci-fi example: H.G. Wells , The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth.
  • Dystopian science fiction: This subgenre typically imagines a future world where technological or scientific progress has led to catastrophe, disaster, or totalitarian repression. Dystopian sci-fi example: 1984 by George Orwell.
  • Space exploration: There is a whole category on Amazon for books that involve space exploration and speculation about what might be out there. Space exploration sci-fi example: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

There are many more subgenres of sci-fi. Amazon sci-fi subcategories currently include:

  • Alien invasion
  • Alternative history
  • Anthologies and short stories
  • Colonization
  • Crime and mystery
  • First contact
  • Galactic Empire
  • Genetic Engineering

and much more. Browse the full list to get a sense of what’s currently trending in each sci-fi niche in case you want to niche down.

In my opinion, two streams run through science fiction. The first traces back to Jules Verne. It is ‘the idea as hero’. His tales are mainly concerned with the concept—a submarine, a journey to the center of the planet, and so on. The second derives from H.G. Wells. His own ideas were brilliant, but he didn’t care how implausible they might be, an invisible man or a time machine or whatever. He concentrated on the characters, their emotions and interactions. Today, we usually speak of these two streams as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science fiction. Poul Anderson article on science fiction history, ‘ Ideas for Science Fiction ‘ in Writer, September 1998

2. Imagine it doesn’t have to be the way it is

There are several ideas that are helpful in writing any kind of speculative fiction , whether science fiction or fantasy.

One of these great ideas, courtesy of Ursula K. Le Guin again, is ‘It doesn’t have to be the way it is’.

In Le Guin’s brilliant essay collection No Time to Spare (2017), she writes about the inherently subversive power of fantastical fiction. The way imagining ‘otherwise’ is a revolutionary act:

“Why are things as they are? Must they be as they are? What might they be like if they were otherwise?” To ask these questions is to admit the contingency of reality, or at least to allow that our perception of reality may be incomplete, our interpretation of it arbitrary or mistaken. Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be the Way It Is’ in No Time to Spare (2019), p. 83

Further on the same page, Le Guin writes:

Upholders and defenders of a status quo, political, social, economic, religious, or literary, may denigrate or diabolize or dismiss imaginative literature, because it is – more than any kind of writing – subversive by nature . It has proved, over many centuries, a useful instrument of resistance to oppression. Le Guin, p. 83.

How do the above ideas connect to how to write good science fiction?

Science fiction quote Ursula K. Le Guin on imaginative literature

Imagining otherwise: Sci-fi writing prompts

Here is a list of prompts to generate science fiction ideas based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s statements on sci-fi’s subversive power:

  • How might future technology change hierarchy, power, the status quo?
  • What new social relations might emerge in the future or exist on a planet (or in a dimension) to which humans never been?
  • What new economic rules or ways of exchanging goods for services or labor might one day exist?
  • How could technology and religion or cultural custom affect one another in the future?

To write good science fiction, start by saying, ‘It doesn’t have to be the way it is’.

Lean into could, should, and God forbid.

3. Keep abreast of science and tech news

Writing good science fiction requires, as with writing any fiction, passion (or at least curiosity) for your subject matter.

To find tidbits of emerging tech news around AI, robotics, and other types of scientific innovation, create a Google Alert for a science topic that fascinates you.

This way, whenever something that could spark a story idea is published, you’ll know.

2021 Nebula and Hugo Award finalist S.B. Divya shares sci-fi-adjacent news on her author website published under the title ‘science bytes’.

Divya describes her archive as:

A collection of science & technology news that I found interesting this month. Many of these relate to tech that’s covered in my novels and short stories, but some are here purely for inspiration. S.B. Divya, author’s website.

Journaling about interesting scientific developments like this is a great way to keep track of fascinating new ideas. This is also a great idea of the kind of content you could share on your own author website for science-interested readers.

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4. Think in systems and impacts

Worldbuilding is a challenging aspect of writing speculative fiction (fantasy or sci-fi). It’s tough because it requires you to imagine highly complex systems.

Science fiction on YouTube is full of insight as there are many full-length interviews with esteemed sci-fi authors.

Here’s a fascinating interview with Arthur C. Clarke, one of the great sci-fi authors, where he predicts many of the ways the modern cell phone works before its time (in 1976).

An interesting aspect of the interview, for how to write good science fiction, is that it highlights how technological and ecological change are so inextricably linked.

The interviewer asks Clarke to put in context his statement that communication tech in the 1970s was still in the ‘semaphore and smoke’ stag [ semaphore referring to communication by holding two flags at various angles to each other]. Clarke says (1:25-1:46):

[With future communication devices] you’ll tell the machine, ‘I’m interested in such and such items – sports, politics, and so forth – and the machine will hunt the main central library and bring all this to you selectively. Just what you want, not all the junk you have to get, you know when you buy the two or three pounds of wood pulp which is the daily newspaper … and [I’m] saying this is going to save whole forests for posterity because the newspaper is on the way out. Arthur C. Clarke, interview from AT&T-MIT conference (1976).

Clarke’s argument is of course utopian-seeming to modern readers. There are different scales and rates of technological development, and deforestation is as concerning as ever (due to wildfires and agricultural expansion).

If imagining a future system, ask how tech changes might affect the environment, or how environmental necessities may affect or drive tech.

Imagining systemic causes and effects – the moving variables within a whole – and showing more than telling these creatively in action and description is a hallmark of some of the best science fiction stories.

Infographic - tips on writing science fiction

5. Explore the creative uses of AI

In our monthly writing webinars , we interviewed Now Novel member, author and emerging tech speaker Kate Baucherel about her cybercrime thriller SimCavalier series, the first book of which is set in the near-future (2040s London).

Besides asking her science fiction writing tips, we discussed AI and the rapid rate of technological development. Says Kate:

I do think that the artificial intelligence aspect is really interesting because it is so darn powerful and so utterly daft at the same time. There was a wonderful panel at South by Southwest® in Austin this year where they looked at, ‘Could an artificial intelligence work out what the end of a children’s story was [if it] was simply inferred?’ Every human from about the age of two can work out that the bear has eaten the rabbit because it stole its hat. But the artificial intelligence would not be able to tell a cartoon bear from a real bear. […] It’s only as smart as the data you feed it. Kate Baucherel, interview, Now Novel webinar ‘Writing sci-fi with Kate Baucherel’.

There are many creative AI tools online you can use to find inspiration for science fiction stories or their settings (or create your own visual prompts).

Try craiyon.com , a browser-based app based on OpenAI’s framework for turning natural language into images. This was a result of entering ‘an incredible alien world and its alarming vegetation’

AI-generated science fiction image - alien planet with nearby neighboring planet and vegetation

Example: Using AI tools to find science fiction ideas

Copy.ai is an example of an online tool using AI to help writers (specifically marketers) generate and develop ideas.

We fed the phrases ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘virtual humans’ and ‘machines that have emotions’ into the tool to see the analogies it would generate.

Options it returned for analogies began fairly predictably:

My computer is a virtual human in that: it can fool me into thinking it has emotions. Analogy output via copy.ai

Where copy.ai got interesting from a storytelling perspective was where it returned an anomaly, a more bizarre, unexpected response to the same prompt words:

Goodbye to a priest in that: he is friends with another kind of people.

There was no hint of the clergy in the original inputs, so there must have been something in the sample data around these terms.

This sentence could be expanded into a ‘soft’ science fiction story idea using Now Novel’s central idea finder in our story outlining dashboard:

Example science fiction story idea generated using AI

This is just one possible development of the AI-generated prompt (‘Goodbye’ could also be interpreted to mean another kind of departure, posthumanism, for example ).

Writing good science fiction requires using your imagination to think ‘otherwise’. AI, virtual intelligence, and simple browser-based apps can help you do that in sometimes surprising, playful ways.

6. Show the effects of change

How to write a good science fiction story means applying a universal element of what makes stories great – change.

Science fiction finds vitality, intrigue, drama in the ways who, what, why, where and when change at the fringes of time and space; beyond the limits of modern capabilities such as transportation, information systems and scientific knowledge.

The Scottish author Iain Banks (whose science fiction appeared under the pen name Iain M. Banks) shared with Open University why he sees science fiction as one of the most important genres:

I’ve said for years I think science fiction is really the most important of the genres because it’s the only one that deals quite specifically with the effects of change on humans, both on an individual and societal level. And that has mattered very fundamentally ever since the industrial revolution. Iain Banks, in conversation with The Open University (23:15)

Iain Banks on why science fiction is most important genre

7. Embrace the complexity of fantastical tales

A feature of speculative fiction such as sci-fi and fantasy that may deter some fans of ‘realist’ writing is its conceptual complexity .

It’s true that many sci-fi books require you to imagine and recall complex geographies, naming conventions, tech innovations, and more. Yet this complexity of invention and make-believe is also one of sci-fi’s deep pleasures. Especially when authors develop complex ‘what if’ questions in characterful, storied ways.

N.K. Jemisin (the first African-American woman to be awarded the Hugo Award in 2016) was praised for how her novel The Fifth Season achieves the above .

The book has not one but two glossaries of terms. It describes a planet that has a single super-continent called the Stillness which has a catastrophic season of climate change every few centuries. Inhabitants call this ‘the fifth season’ (hence the title).

N.K. Jemisin speaks of the values of embracing complexity and having the courage to write genre fiction on your own terms in an interview with The Paris Review :

In a lot of cases, people read science fiction and fantasy when they’re younger and then they age out of it. Fantasy in particular. They get tired of the endless Tolkien clones. They get tired of stories where an elf, a dwarf, and a halfling walk into a bar. They’re not that bad, but you see the formula and once you’ve seen the formula a couple of times, you get tired of it […] I believe at least a few of my literary readers are ex–genre readers who had left, basically in a huff, tired of the formula, and came back because something I’m doing speaks to something they want. There’s a change that’s been happening on a number of different levels. There are more literary-style writers in the genre. N.K. Jemisin in ‘A True Utopia: An Interview With N. K. Jemisin’, December 3 2018.

8. Think about power, representation and access

Whether it explores galactic empires or a single, alien world, science fiction often alights on questions of power.

What makes a Sith Lord join the dark side? Are alien races as warring as humans or do they live in a state of enlightened harmony or post-scarcity environment? One thing Jemisin touches on in the Paris Review interview above is how some science fiction reads more as ‘magical thinking’ than story grounded in believable historical and other processes.

For example, Jemisin pinpoints how there may be only one or two Asian people in Star Trek even though this is the largest demographic on earth (this is changing due to recent social movements for diverse and inclusive representation):

Science fiction has always said that it strives for a future for all humankind. Most science fiction does not depict futures for all humankind, though. And in a lot of cases, when it tries to do so, it does this by kind of hand-waving how we get to these shiny, happy, utopian futures. Star Trek , for example. In Star Trek , in the future, everyone can be part of the Starfleet. Supposedly all of humanity has access to good education, good food, all of that other stuff, and yet, Starfleet is still dominated by middle-class, middle-American white dudes. So, something happened along the way, clearly. There’s only one Asian man and Asian people represent the bulk of humanity now. That’s crazy. Jemisin, The Paris Review

Compare to Arthur C. Clarke’s words on the newspaper disappearing. There is no mention of the fact multiple cultures exist in different geographies, with different paces (and desires and requirements) for development, throwing a universally-adopted future system into question by default.

The danger of thinking about science without social science is erasure or blind spots like Jemisin describes.

Power, representation and access in science fiction: Questions

To write good science fiction that is also historically and culturally aware, ask:

  • Who is part of ‘us’ in your future world, who is treated as ‘other’ or ‘them’ by any group (is there an economic or political reason?)
  • If the story depicts a utopian world where there is no class, racial or gender or other discrimination or exploitation, no prejudice, how did it get to this harmonious state? Is it believable or will it seem like wishful thinking? What other story conflicts are there?
  • Who has access to what in a future world? Is education and access to goods or services universal? What does equality or inequality look like?
  • Read theorists of society and culture where you can, as well as history – looking back to the past is a great way to find inspiration for writing the future

Who are your favorite sci-fi authors? What do you think makes good science fiction? Let us know in the comments.

Planning to write a science fiction novel? Join Group Coaching, a structured, 6-month course to write a book with daily writing sprints, writing coach Q&As, weekly feedback and more.

Related Posts:

  • Writing science fiction: 8 ideas for quantum leaps in craft
  • The difference between fantasy and science fiction
  • Writing prompt ideas: 10 ideas from top authors
  • Tags science fiction , writing genres

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

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Science Fiction Essay Examples

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About Science Fiction

Forrest J Ackerman in 1954 year

Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life atc.

Hard science fiction and Soft science fiction

Douglas Adams, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Franz Kafka, Daniel Keyes, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Kevin O'Donnell Jr., George Orwell, Philip Pullman

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